Lumbar Disc Herniation
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.
Lumbar disc herniation
occurs when a disc in your lumbar spine (lower back) bulges out. Lumbar discs are spongy cushions between the vertebrae (bones) in your spine. The herniated disc may press on your nerves or spinal cord.
Common signs and symptoms include the following:
Mild lumbar disc herniation may not cause any signs or symptoms. You may have any of the following if the herniated disc presses against your nerves or spinal cord:
- Pain in your lower back, buttocks, groin, or legs
- Burning, stabbing, or tingling pain that shoots down one or both of your legs
- Numbness or weakness in one leg
- Trouble walking or moving your feet or toes
Seek care immediately if:
- You cannot control when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
- You are unable to move one or both of your legs.
- You lose feeling in your groin or buttocks.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have numbness in one or both of your legs.
- You have low back pain while resting.
- You have trouble moving one or both of your legs.
- You begin leaking urine or bowel movement, and it is not normal for you.
- Your pain gets worse, even after you take medicine.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Your healthcare provider may have you rest in bed for a few days. It is best to rest on your side with your knees bent. Put a cushion between your knees to help decrease the pressure on your spine and nerves. You may also need any of following:
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
- Muscle relaxers decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- A steroid injection may be given to reduce inflammation. Steroid medicine is injected into the epidural space. The epidural space is between your spinal cord and vertebrae. You may be given pain medicine along with the steroids.
- Physical therapy may be recommended by your healthcare provider. A physical therapist teaches you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain. A physical therapist can teach you safe ways to bend, lift, sit, and stand to help relieve back pain.
- Surgery may be needed to fix your herniated disc if other treatments have failed. Surgery may be done to remove your herniated disc and make your spine stronger. Surgery may also be done to decrease pressure on your nerves and spinal cord.
Manage pain from a lumbar disc herniation:
- Apply heat on your lower back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Do low-stress exercise and activity. Exercises that do not stress your back muscles may help decrease your pain. Examples of low-stress exercises are walking, swimming, and biking. Avoid heavy lifting while your back is healing. Try not to sit for long periods of time. Talk to your healthcare provider before you start any new exercise program.
Follow up with your doctor as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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